England have finally broken their silence on the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, as the Football Association chiefs vowed to lobby FIFA for new health and safety legislation.
Migrant workers who helped build the stadiums and infrastructure ahead of this winter’s World Cup will be invited to the England base and speak to the players.
The FA has called for compensation for workers injured or killed on construction projects and will campaign for the establishment of a center for migrant workers in Qatar.
An investigation by Sportsmail last year found that migrant workers in Qatar were being paid just £12 a day for 11-hour shifts in searing temperatures of over 38C (100F).
Amnesty International has urged FIFA to set up a compensation fund of at least £350m for workers who have suffered “human rights abuses” – an amount equivalent to the World Cup prize pool.
However, the FA’s statement included no comment from England manager Gareth Southgate and the only visible form of protest will be Harry Kane, wearing a rainbow ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband.
Kane will join the captains of Holland, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales in the anti-discrimination gesture, starting with Friday’s UEFA Nations League game against Italy in Milan.
The OneLove campaign was originally the idea of the Dutch team.
Kane said, “I’m honored to join my fellow captains in supporting the important OneLove campaign.
“As captains, we all compete against each other on the pitch, but together we stand against any form of discrimination.
“This is all the more relevant at a time when division in society is commonplace. Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message as the world watches.”
The FA statement continued: “For more than a year, the FA has engaged in dialogue with numerous human rights organisations, trade unions and NGOs [NGOs] Prepare for Qatar 2022 to get a balanced understanding of key issues in the country and across the region.
“While we understand there is still progress to be made in many areas domestically, the aim has been to learn how to best leverage our position as national football governing body while ensuring the well-being of England fans, players and support team .
“Furthermore, representatives of the FA have visited the country on a number of occasions – including as part of UEFA’s working group on Qatar – and held regular meetings with local authorities, migrant workers, charities and organizations on the ground to better understand their time-today experiences and challenges .
“The FA’s position is that any injury or death related to a construction project should be compensated and the World Cup is no different.
“Likewise, the FA supports the concept of a migrant workers’ center and has lobbied FIFA for an urgent update on progress.
“Following the implementation of progressive laws granting workers’ rights, the concept of a center aims to ensure that these laws are implemented and that there is awareness of the new labor laws and legal support where necessary.
“The FA has also consistently made it clear that the companies it works with in Qatar must meet the required standards in relation to workers’ rights and provide strong and lawful support to their workers.
“FA officials continue to visit the country regularly to speak directly to service providers and to liaise with FIFA, who assigns many of the services used by competing teams as tournament organizers.”
However, football fans were unfazed by the FA’s statement and accused the governing body of not taking enough action – blasting their stance of simply incorporating rainbow armbands and saying it was ineffective.
A supporter said: “So England’s response to the World Cup in Qatar is for the Capt to wear a ‘stop discrimination’ armband and for the Qatar government to pay the families of dead migrant workers. (over 6,500 so far) The problem is that the Qatari government says no migrants have died. But the armband will tell them.”
Another simply wrote: ‘Don’t play in Qatar then.’
One response also echoed this sentiment, writing: “If you really wanted to fight discrimination you would only talk about money I think!”
“I’m sure that will make the difference,” read a sarcastic tweet. ‘Be honest and boycott.’